Things are starting to heat up for director David Fincher’s English-language adaptation of the first entry in Stieg Larsson’s hit Millenium trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

The official announcement that Daniel Craig will star as journalist Mikael Blomkvist in the film was released earlier this week.  Fincher is expected to announce his choice for the role of Lisbeth Salander in two weeks time, as pre-production on Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is scheduled to begin next month.

Fincher is reportedly determined to remain faithful to the novel’s version of Salander, a 24-year old, 4’11” computer hacker genius described as being “a pale, anorexic young woman who had hair as short as a fuse, and a pierced nose and eyebrows… born thin, with slender bones that made her look girlish.”

Several actresses rumored as serious contenders for the role – including one-time front runner Carey Mulligan – are apparently no longer in the running, due to the age/height requirements.

There are now four remaining candidates – all relative unknowns – to play the part of Salander: Australians Sophie Lowe and Sarah Snook, American Rooney Mara (co-star of Fincher’s The Social Network), and French performer Léa Seydoux (Robin Hood).

L to R: Sophie Lowe, Rooney Mara, and Léa Seydoux

Screenwriter Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List) is penning the new Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and will work directly from the source material.  Fincher has also revealed that the Swedish setting will remain as well, since he feels that (in my opinion, rightly) the chilling atmosphere of that region is most appropriate for the dark, Noirish story.

The American remake will most likely be R-Rated, which is also fitting given the graphic content of Larsson’s novel.  The subject matter (which includes that of institutionalized prejudice and misogyny, homicide, and rape) is simply too intense for a PG-13 flick.  Fortunately, handling macabre narrative material is arguably Fincher’s forte so he should be up for the challenge.

Although Fincher has the option to direct the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, he insists that there are currently no plans to shoot two films back-to-back.  His feelings on the matter are quite reasonable, mainly that “You got to make one [movie] that people want to see a sequel to before you can make a sequel.”

Could Girl With the Dragon Tattoo reach Da Vinci Code levels of financial success?  The Millenium books are popular enough to at least ensure a solid if not spectacular turnout at the box office.

Fincher has the benefit of working with far less preposterous and inherently silly material than Ron Howard did in his Dan Brown adaptation.  That should work in favor of the film’s critical prospects.

Now we just have to hope Daniel Craig doesn’t start sporting a Tom Hanks-inspired mullet anytime soon. 😉

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will make its way into theaters in December of 2011.

Source: MTV, The Daily Beast